Muru-D Singapore sees pioneer cohort exceed fundraising expectations

Visual of Muru-D website. Decmeber 2015

A majority of ventures in Telstra Group-backed accelerator Muru-D Singapore’s first cohort have raised a significant proportion of their seed rounds with two teams raising in excess of S$300,000.

Inducted in late 2015, the nine high-growth ventures straddle a variety of spaces including healthcare, consumer applications, financial services, legal services, mobile payments and advertising.

They presented their business theses’ to a mixed audience of entrepreneurs, investors and media, at the demo day event on Monday.

Each of the startups in the cohort secured S$40,000 in seed capital from Muru-D, as well as six months of access to its premises and mentors, coaches and corporate experts from within Telstra. The accelerator was first established by Telstra in Sydney by co-founders Annie Parker and Charlotte Yarkoni, who also serve as president of Telstra Software Group.

Speaking on his induction into the programme, Eric Meyer, the CEO and co-founder of cybersecurity firm Apvera, a graduating startup in the cohort, said, ” We joined Muru-D because of its deep relationships and broad reach into the corporate sphere, as well as their excellent track record. I am pleased to say that they delivered in spades, connecting Apvera with global experts and large channel partners which have helped accelerate our growth.”

Other ventures accelerated at Muru-D Singapore include credit card startup Cardable, e-commerce communications venture GCall, online crowdfunding platform InvestorZ, legal services firm LawCanvas, enterprise-oriented digital marketing platform PrecisionBit, online cleaner matching platform Sendhelper, healthcare management platform Stash and vending machine payments solution Vendi.

In collaboration with Telstra, the accelerator aims to attract a portfolio of Southeast Asia’s best digital talent, in addition to fostering the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and functioning as a key launchpad for entrepreneurs in the region.

With its background as a generalist accelerator, in a space where a number of both specialist and generalist accelerators have emerged, their pioneer Singapore cohort featured software-oriented startups.

Speaking on this, Jamie Camidge, Muru-D’s head of partnerships & strategic alliances shared with DEALSTREETASIA: “Two of our nine startups have a hardware component. They are ApVera, which has an appliance that sits inside an enterprise network and is a security scanning tool and Vendi, which has a communications unit that fits inside any vending machine for mobile payments. Murk-D in every single cohort has had a representation of hardware-based startups.”

Also Read: Singapore: Whatifics digs into startup business models with its analytics tool

Australia’s Telstra Ventures invests $10m in Singapore-based Monk’s Hill VC fund

Telstra divests Pacnet’s ISP assets in Singapore, Thailand to DeClout for $4.4m

Commenting on key lessons learnt from their first Singapore batch, Camidge elaborated: “This confirms our existing strategy. This also leads to the question of points of difference; the things that Muru-D differently from a lot of accelerator concerns the value of the six month duration of our programme. Many of the teams starting to pick up measurable, tangible acceleration aspects in the later half of the programme.”

He added, “For instance, functioning as a generalist accelerator is actually is a significant value add, because of the cross-pollination of complementary skills and capabilities that the different teams possess. Having Precision Bit, a marketing analytics startup, was incredibly beneficial for our fintech startups, who are strong in finance but functionally weak in marketing. Having diversity is a key characteristic of the way we select teams, as well as the types of professional background they possess.”

Speaking on the graduation of their pioneer Singapore batch, Yarkoni stated: “Through Muru-D Singapore, we’ve had the opportunity to work with inspiring entrepreneurs with innovative technology and global ambitions. Having watched these teams grow and develop their businesses for the past six months, we are thrilled to see the transformation.”

She added, “We’ll continue to provide ongoing support as they become part of our thriving alumni of 44 startups from around the world. Personally, I’m thrilled with the diversity of represented in this cohort too – more than half of the graduating teams have female founders.”

Expanding on Yarkoni’s point, Camidge shared with DEALSTREETASIA: “Diversity is an incredible value add for our founders. We have a good multinational representation from Singapore and abroad, as well as a strong representation of female candidates and the fact that we take a range of startups from all sorts of verticals and horizontals is incredibly powerful, as the founders learn from and teach each other.”

With the startup ecosystem of the region gaining traction, and its position as a leading technology and telecom firm in Australasia, Telstra is set on both embracing the business transformations brought about by digital technologies, as well as leveraging on their expansion across the region.

In a separate development, Muru-D’ entrepreneur-in-residence Joseph Ziegler left Muru-D at the conclusion of this batch to pursue new projects. Asked to describe his new project, Rockstarz Asia, he shared with DEALSTREETASIA that it involved: “Venture building with tech and money.”

Speaking on the pioneer cohort of startup ventures from Muru-D Singapore, Ziegler, explained to DEALSTREETASIA in email communications: “I can’t really speak on behalf of muru-D now, but I can tell you from my own experience. We took some risks.  We went later stage on some startups and had to adjust to teams that had a lot of distance on traction.”

He added, “We also relocated teams to Singapore and had to learn the process of transferring IP, remote founders as well as visas.  But I feel like it paid off.  I feel like all of the teams, even ones that are going home are satisfied with the results.”

Alex Lin, the head of Infocomm Investments (IIPL), commented: “The fact that Singapore is chosen as the place for the Muru-D programme outside of Australia speaks to the abundance of opportunities in our ecosystem. The nine graduating teams reflect the diversity of startups and talents in Singapore and around the region.”

Also Read: I don’t want unicorns in Asia but viable businesses that can grow: Joseph Ziegler, Telstra Muru-D

Singapore must build more innovation-driven enterprises:Alex Lin, IIPL

Core of strategy is clarity of purpose: Jamie Camidge, muru-D